September 28, 2012

Book Review: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

At First Sight: Lexie Larrabee is counting down the days until her 18th birthday, the day when she'll get the 25 million dollars sitting in her trust found. 

But after a night of hard partying and drama leads to her crashing her car into a connivence store mere days before her birthday, her absentee father decides it's time to teach Lexie some responsibility.

So, for the next year, Lexie is to work 52 different low-wage jobs all around southern California if she wants to get her hands on her money. Oh, and the arrangement also comes with a built in babysitter in the form of Luke Carver, a new intern in Larrabee Media and her father's newest lackey. 

Not that Luke isn't kind of hot, and young and sometimes even nice. 

Second Glance: I don't know why but from the moment I started to read 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, I liked Lexie even though at first she seems to be every bit the spoiled brat that Luke things she is. 

I think it was Holly, her dog, that got me to insta-like her. And I'm glad because, as the book progressed, I grew to like her even more. I loved how she began to appreciate each job she had to do and to find the silver-lining of the situation. 

Lexie could be a little dramatic at times, but I understood why: if she made a fuss or caused trouble, people (meaning her dad) noticed her, and she was very lonely - she's the only girl, and the only one of her brothers she ever felt close to is currently in the Peace Corps, and the other siblings ignore her for the most part - as a result, her antics didn't annoy me. 

There is a bit of romance too, and it was nice. I really liked Luke even if he could be a bit of a hypocrite at times - but Lexie calls him on it and I really liked that scene. 

The one criticism I have for the book is that Lexie's Dad undergoes a personality change toward the end of the book and that he was let off-the-hook way too easily.

Bottom Line: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father was a pleasant surprise to me, as I had never tried this author before. It had romance and friendship and it was fun and easy to read (and I mean that in a good way). I had a lot of fun while reading this book. Was it the book to end all books? No, but it was such a nice comfort read. 

Favorite Quote: "In fact, simply having her here with me now instantly shifts my mood. It’s amazing how she’s able to do that. People can be so annoying sometimes. With all their stupid opinions and hidden agendas. But dogs? Dogs don’t have any agendas. They’re as honest and open and devoted as you can get. And that’s why they’ll always cheer you up. They’ll always love you. No matter how badly you screw up. No matter where you happen to crash your Mercedes convertible." - Lexie about Holly.

September 27, 2012

Speed Date: In a Fix by Linda Grimes

The Deal: Ciel is an aura shape-shifter, as in she can mimic anyone's aura and appear to be them. That's what she does for a living, taking someone's form and get things done for them. Her current job should be easy: get a proposal out of some girl's boyfriend. 

But what seems easy quickly turns complicated when her mark is kidnapped by vikings. And, of course, Ciel is there to jump into the thick of things with her almost-cousin Billy and her long-time crush  Mark (who also happens to be a CIA agent). 

My Thoughts: I got In a Fix when Sandy @ Pirate Penguin Reads told me I should and it turned to be quite  nice read even if a bit out of my comfort zone since this is Urban Fantasy all the way.

Now, the beginning of the book is kind to hard, I think I started to read it like three times before I made it pass chapter three because you are kind of thrown into the situation without much of a set up or warning.

But once things start to pick up, they turn amazing.

My one trouble with the book is that I could have used a little more back story on the characters, but maybe said back story will be doled out later as this is the start of a new series.

What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

September 26, 2012

Book Review: Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose

The Deal: For the last six months, Alex Lyons has been working for Chick Habit - a up and coming blog that covers all sorts of women-related things like celebrities and pop culture - and though at first it seemed like a great opportunity, it's starting to drive her crazy.

She spends her days glued to the computer/iphone, showers only occasionally and has been wearing the same ugly muumuu every day of the summer so far. And she has melt downs each time she gets hate mail. 

Still, she can't seem to tear herself away, and she can help but succumbing to the pressure her boss, Moira, puts on her to keep spewing out content and grow a pair and stop whimpering about said hate mail. 

Things get seriously complicated one week when she stumbles into an irresistible scoop that could very well destroy someone's life.

My Thoughts: I started Sad Desk Salad with high hopes, I was actually talking through a friend while I read the first few chapters and kept quoting stuff at her, because Sad Desk Salad starts in a very funny way that resonated with me - I'm a blogger too, after all - and when she was going nuts about page views and less than nice comments that part rang quite true. 

But as time passed and the scoop bit was revealed, I found myself wishing Alex would grow a pair too. And that she would stop being such a paranoid psycho. She's almost thirty yet she keeps behaving in a very childish way - particularly with her boyfriend Peter and her best friend Jane - and blames everyone but herself for the things that keep happening to her. 

I started the book liking Alex a lot, but by the end I'm not sure I liked her at all. Though the book had it's funny moments it did started to moralize a little toward the end which is just annoying - and there is this sort of mystery thread running through that added to that and was pretty thin. 

Sad Desk Salad comes out October 2nd, 2012.

Favorite Quote: "What I wrote could sometimes be constructed as mean - but I always tried to be fair. "Nice" is different than "good", as Stephen Sondheim says. My new rule turned out to be: Don't write anything you wouldn't say to a person's face. Sober."

September 24, 2012

Book Review: Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

At First Sight: Rose is starting high school just a few months after the death of her father, her brother has decamped to college - after giving Rose a very awkward sex talk - and her mother barely talks to her. Oh and her best friend is currently obsessed with losing her virginity and becoming a cheerleader.

She's also stuck on the same table as Jamie Forta for study hall. Jamie used to be on the hockey team with Rose's brother, and Rose has had a crush on him for a while. And, as the days pass, it starts to look like he might have taken notice of her somehow. 

But Jamie's notice might just get Rose in more trouble. 

Second Glance: It was hard to write a summary for Confessions of an Angry Girl because when it boils down to it, there isn't really much to tell. It is about Rose's first year of high school and her dealing with her father's death and the anger Rose has about it all. 

I kind of liked Rose though she sometimes did things that I didn't quite understand, and I felt like sometimes she just talked and talked and talked about things that didn't require quite so much exposition. But her frame of mind is understandable giving the circumstances. 

I liked Jamie too, though he had a few jerky tendencies - like sending Rose mixed signals when he has a somewhat steady girlfriend - but he had a nice vibe around him for the most part. And I really liked his friend Angelo, he kind of reminded me of a friend of mine. 

My main problem with the book, though, is that there are parts of it that feel really rushed, and like the story ends in nothing in particular? Later I found out this is the first book of a series, but I didn't know that going in and when I reached the end I was, like, "uh? that's it?"

Bottom Line: I don't want to damn Confessions of an Angry Girl with faint praise but it was a pretty average book, not good or bad that did indulge in one of my writing pet-peeves: sequel bait. But it was a decent enough read, all in all. 

September 23, 2012

List Maniac: Dropped Series

Well, since I haven't done one of these in a while, I decided to resurrect the lists. And this time is about the series that at some point liked but that eventually stopped following, I think we all have series like that, when they just start to stretch the taffy a bit too much and the series loses the spark. These are some of the series I've dropped.

When this series started, I really liked it. I liked the idea of Kaitlin Burke, soap opera star, trying to live a normal life and having a nice boyfriend and whatever. It sounded adorable- and it kind of was, for one book. Then book 2 came around and it was basically the same as book 2, and then so was book 3. Kaitlin always bemoans her fame but freaks out whenever it might go away and her family is way crappy, the only care that she stays famous because she's their meal ticket. There are three more books but I just didn't care to read them.

I started out loving The Luxe, the first book was just SO good. I loved Diana - she was my favorite character - and it just had the makings of something really awesome. But I was midway through the second book when I heard how the series ended... and well, it didn't end up in a way I liked so I decided not to invest the time on it and just drop it there.

I generally love Ms. Hoyt's books but this series just isn't clicking for me. The first book was a challenge to finish, the second one I never got around reading and the third - Scandalous Desires - finally convinced me that this series isn't for me because I just don't care about this set of characters of what happens to them. Also, the setting - St. Giles - isn't really appealing to me. So I'm waiting patiently for a new series by this author because I do love her writing.

I actually DNFed the second book, Uncommon Criminals, midway through. I like the secondary characters - like Hale and Gaby and Kat's extended family - but I hate Kat. She annoys me, and I just don't get why everyone fawns all over her all the time when she's always acting like she's ashamed of the family business just to later use them and their connections to her advantage. And she's often really mean to Hale who adores her.

This is the classic case of over-stretching the taffy. This series should have ended in book 4, but then it was expanded to 8 books, which I still read and it kind of still made sense, but then I found out that there would be even more books - I think it's currently up to 11 or something - and it was just more of the same. It's like they are creating troubles out of thin air to keep the series going. 

What about you? Do you have any series that eventually had to abandon? 

Let me know in comments :D 

September 20, 2012

Speed Date: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

The Deal: Gwen Frost is the new kid a Mythos Academy, a special school for special kids, kids who can trace their lineage back to Valkyries, Vikings, Amazons, Spartans and other magical folk, and they are all very good at killing.

Gwen isn't exactly thrilled about being there, and doesn't really understand why as she's just a Gypsy girl -which is what almost everyone calls her at school instead of Gwen - and her one gift is to be able to touch things and people and know their history. 

One night, when she was working in the library, Gwen stumbles upon the dead body of the most popular girl of her class, Jasmine. She's is shocked and surprised, but eventually decides to take matters into her own hands and figure out who killed Jasmine and why... which starts to get her into all sorts of trouble and puts her on Logan Quinn's radar, the school's deadliest Spartan. 

My Thoughts: I decided to read this book because Small, of Small Review, reviewed it and it made it sound just like my kind of thing. What was there not to love? it has a boarding school for mythical kids! 

While I didn't love the book as much as Small did, I can see the potential of the book. I liked Gwen and Logan and Daphne and Carson, the world building is pretty good, there are a lot of secrets in the world Gwen finds herself thrown up into and it's fun to discover them along her. 

My trouble with the book is that a) I sometimes found Gwen to be a bit whinny. And b) it took forever for things to get going and it was very easy for me to put down the book, particularly during the first 100 pages. 

Other than that, Touch of Frost has all the makings for a good series. 

What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

PS - I just realized I bought this book almost exactly a year ago :P

September 19, 2012

Book Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

At First Sight: Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret, everyone knows that. She likes to know everything about everyone just a touch less than she likes sharing her knowledge with the world, particularly with Kristen, her best friend and the most popular girl of their class.

This time - during one of Kristen's parties - Chelsea stumbles upon a really big secret about one of her classmates, Noah, and before she knows it she has told everyone and her actions have consequences that she never imagined before. 

So Chelsea decides to take a vow of silence, since opening her mouth always gets her and the people around her in serious trouble. Still, the vow turns out to be harder than expected, when she wants to speak up, when she's being bullied by those who were supposedly her best friends, when she things would just be easier if she could say what she means. 

Still, the vow takes her to unexpected places, like to meeting new friends Asha and Sam (who happen to be close to Noah) and hanging out with them at the dinner they work at, Rosie's, and dealing with the fall out of the things she has done. 

Australian Cover
Second Glance:  Speechless was an interesting book. I wasn't expecting much of it since I didn't like Saving June all that much - I thought it was okay but nothing didn't love it as much as everyone else seemed too.

Speechless was a happy surprise. I really liked Chelsea from the start - I thought I would hate her because of what she did, but instead I felt a lot of compassion for her.

She was a bit of a bully, partially because she was a huge gossip, but mostly because she went along to get along and let her friends do questionable things without protesting.

But when it mattered, she did the right thing even though it cost her and her family a lot. It does take her a while to realize she might not want her old life back after all, but the way she thought felt very true of a teenager.

I liked Asha, Sam and Andy, and generally all the new people that Chelsea meets, they were a lot nicer than her old friends.

I did think that, toward the end, the book got a little trite and the ending was a little anti-climatic and clichéd, but at least it was sweet and it ended in a good place. 

Bottom Line:  Speechless was a very pleasant surprise to me. It had humor, and I really liked the characters I was supposed to like and disliked the ones I was supposed to dislike, and it worked well for  the most part. All in all, Speechless was a very engaging read. 

Favorite Quote:
"And you think I can help with this... why, exactly?"
"I don't know. You see more diabolical than anyone else here."
Andy puts his hand over his heart and smiles at me like I've just granted him a wonderful compliment. "That's sweet of you," He says. 

September 17, 2012

Book Review: Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath

At First Sight: Lord Tristan Easton has spent his life at sea, ever since he was 14 years old and was forced to flee his childhood home and separate from his siblings, Tristan became Crimson Jack, a notorious pirate/privateer, and even now that he's family is somewhat back to rights, he can't seem to leave his other life. 

That is, until he meets Lady Anne Hayworth, who comes to Crimson Jack looking for safe passage to Crimea, where she expects to "see her fiancé". Tristan doesn't need the money Anne is offering, but he enjoys rilling Anne up and likes that she has no idea that he's one of the notorious lost lords of Pembrook. 

It takes some doing but they two of them eventually strike a bargain - Tristan will take her where she wants to go but he demands his payment be a Kiss. Anne isn't entirely happy with the arrangement but she's willing to do what it takes to go see her fiancé. 

But one kiss won't be the ending for these two...

Second Glance: Okay so, after reading She Tempts the Duke I had more modest expectations of this book, which turned out to be a good thing. I did enjoy Lord of Temptation a lot more than She Tempts the Duke, but sadly the book was far from perfect.

The first half of the book was actually quite nice - it's all about Anne trying to get passage to crimea and their actual journey there and back. It sometimes fell  little slow but it was a nice build up all in all. Now the second part, when they are back in London that's when things got a little touchy. 

It felt rushed but slow and just plain boring sometimes. I also had a hard time liking Anne who was *SPOILER ALERT* fully prepared to marry another man but kept sleeping with Tristan each time they got *SPOILER ALERT*

I did like Tristan for the most part, he was okay, but well, it seemed like, in the end, he and Anne were arguing for the last 200 pages over nothing and everything was resolved rather conveniently if in a very manic, over the top scene. 

The Epilogue was nice though. 

Bottom Line: Lord of Temptation was not my favorite read of this year but I admit I'm still mildly intrigued by these brothers and a small part of me is looking forward to reading the last brother's story. As for this book, is an okay historical read but I didn't find it particularly special. 

September 15, 2012

Cover Love: Confederates Don't Wear Couture

Last year I read and loved Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink so I was very excited when I heard that there would be more books featuring Libby, Dev and Garrett: Confederates Don't Wear Couture, which comes out June 2012.

Here is the Summary: 

Libby's best friend and fabulous fashion designer, Dev, hatches a plan to jet down South and hawk his period gowns to the wives and girlfriends of Civil War re-enactors. With a pang, Libby abandons her plan to visit her boyfriend, Garrett, in Boston and jumps at the chance to help run "Confederate Couture," and let her inner history nerd loose in a 19th century playground. But Libby and Dev aren't whistling Dixie for long. 

Between the constant travel from battle ground to dusty battle ground (with no Starbucks in sight, mind you), blistering heat, and a violent ghost set on romantic revenge, they quickly realize Alabama's no sweet home. And the boys. . . well, let's just say Libby's got the North and the South fighting for her attention. Confederates Don't Wear Couture is another hilarious, historical romp from Stephanie Kate Strohm

Can't wait for it!

September 13, 2012

Speed Date: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

The Deal: Atticus O'Sullivan has made a life for himself in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and posing as a regular 21 year old guy, even though he's actually 21 centuries old and the last of the druids. Oh, and he has had a Celtic God out to get him for several centuries.

Lucky for him - or maybe not so lucky? - he has a goddess of death on his side, even if The Morrigan likes to drop on him every so often to tell him he's in mortal danger. Only that this one time it seems like  it's finally for real. 

However, Atticus is tired of running, so he decides to take a stand with the help of his lawyers, who happen to be a werewolf/vampire team, his Irish wolfhound Oberon (Who is WAY awesome) and a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch. 

My Thoughts: I'm not big on Urban Fantasy, and I'm even less big on Male authors - I'm guilty of reverse snobbery and rarely feel like male authors have anything to offer me as a girl - but I really loved Hounded. It was all kinds of fun.

Atticus had a sense of humor that was a bit similar to my own, so he often got me to smile or laugh, and I  LOVED Oberon, Atticus' dog, he sounded exactly like I imagine a magical dog would talk. And the other characters weren't too shabby.

It was fast paced and different, at least for me, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. 

What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

Ps - Hounded first came to my attention because of a Read-A-Long that Mary of Book Swarm did at the beginning of the year.